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Advocate Responsibility

Developing responsibility means becoming trustworthy or accountable for one’s actions. Encouraging your child to become responsible should start at an early age. It will take a lot of work and patience on your part, but it will be worth every minute of effort, both for you and for your child.

Here are some tips to make this goal a reality:

Begin when your child is young: As soon as your child is old enough to understand, he can begin to help. It might be something as simple as bringing you a clean diaper or handing you the bottle when he is finished.

Children have a strong desire to help. Even children younger than two years old want to do things to help their parents.

You can encourage your child by creatively finding things for him or her to do and then giving lots of praise. This will help build your child’s confidence and self-esteem, and it will set up a pattern of helping out early in your child’s life.

Do not buy your child’s help:

Do not give your child rewards in exchange for helping. You want to build an internal desire to assist you, not one based upon receiving payment.

You want your child to learn the pleasure of giving to others. When he gets a reward for assisting, you teach him to focus on what he will get, instead of how he can give.

This does not mean you never give your child anything for helping. It just can’t be perceived as a “payment”. This is how you should do it.

For instance, after your child does something for you, you can tell him:

“I really appreciate how you helped me and I want to do something nice for you, too. I am going to call your father and have him bring home the movie that you want to see.”

When you reward your child this way, what you are really doing is showing your gratitude. You are not paying a reward for work.

Let the natural consequences of your child’s mistake occur:

We don’t want our children to suffer if we can help them avoid it. But, parents who protect their child from the consequences of their actions are making a big mistake.

Our goal as parents is to teach our child to be good, responsible adults. In the adult world no one is going to shelter your child when he is careless or reckless.

When your child makes a mistake, you do him no favors by bailing him out. Let your child learn to be dependable by taking responsibility for his actions and his mistakes.

Acknowledge when your child is acting responsibly: everybody loves recognition. When you point out times that your child is behaving in a trustworthy fashion, you are encouraging him to continue this type of behavior in the future.

Give your child an allowance:

Let your child make his own money decisions from an early age. He will make mistakes, but don’t bail him out.

Whenever possible, act as an advisor, not as a director:

Give him increasing chances to make his own decisions while still under your roof. Children don’t become more dependable with age. They become more reliable by taking on responsibility.

Give your child a chance to show you what he can do. He will grow from the opportunity. He will grow even more from the mistakes that he makes. Either way, when you give your child the opportunity and you believe in him, he will move toward becoming a well-functioning responsible adult.